A new set of Rock and Roll Hall of Famers is being inducted on March 10 at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria. The wide range of genres and accomplishments represented by this year’s class include pop (Madonna), songwriting mastery (Leonard Cohen, Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff), rock (Dave Clark Five, the Ventures, John Mellencamp) and blues (Little Walter). Billboard.com takes a look at — and listens to — the 2008 inductees.
Born: August 16, 1958
First Album: “Madonna,” 1983
First Billboard Chart Appearance: “Everybody,” No. 3 on the Hot Dance/Club Play chart, 1982
Became Hall of Fame Eligible: 2008
Being Inducted By: Justin Timberlake (He becomes eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2023.)
Madonna’s entry into the Rock Hall comes literally at the first moment she’s eligible, her first album being exactly a quarter century old this year. Since the release of that self-titled debut in 1983, Madonna has been no stranger to the Billboard charts. Her steady stream of famed Hot 100 No. 1’s began with “Like a Virgin” and have included soundtrack ballads (1985’s “Crazy For You,” 1986’s “Live To Tell”), pure pop (“1987’s “Who’s That Girl), dance jams (2000’s “Music”) and everything between. A total of 12 of her singles have reached the top of the Hot 100, and six of her studio albums have repeated the same feat on the Billboard 200.
After her most recent album, 2006’s “Confessions on a Dance Floor,” landed at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, Madonna made headlines late last year by leaving longtime label Warner Music Group to sign a deal with Live Nation reportedly worth $120 million. A combination of the deal, her “Confessions” tour and her H&M clothing line earned her the No. 1 spot on the Forbes list of music’s wealthiest women. Madonna will release a new album, “Hard Candy,” in April.
THE DAVE CLARK FIVE
Members: Dave Clark, Mike Smith, Rick Huxley, Denis Payton, Lenny Davidson
First US Album: “Glad All Over,” 1964
First Billboard Chart Appearance: “Do You Love Me?,” No. 11 on the Hot 100 in 1963
Became Hall of Fame Eligible: 1989
Being Inducted By: actor Tom Hanks
Lead singer Mike Smith, who died of pneumonia at age 64 just two weeks short of the 2008 induction ceremony, may not have lived to take the podium and rock the event with his old bandmates, but he did live to know he’d made it into the Hall of Fame.
Smith and drummer Dave Clark’s eponymous band formed in London just in time to become one of the leading bands of the British Invasion, right after the Beatles. By the time they disbanded in 1970, the group had logged five albums in the top ten of the Billboard 200 chart (including a No. 3 peak for “Glad All Over”) and eight top ten singles on the Hot 100 chart, earning No. 6 with their best known single “Glad All Over” in 1963 and then scoring a No. 1 with their 1965 song “Over and Over.”
Born: October 7, 1951
First Album: “Chestnut Street Incident,” 1976
First Billboard Chart Appearance: His album “John Cougar” peaked at No. 64 on the Billboard 200 in 1979.
Became Hall of Fame Eligible: 2001
Being Inducted By: Billy Joel (Joel entered the Hall of Fame in 1999)
A man of many names, Mellencamp has recorded as Johnny Cougar, John Cougar, John Cougar Mellencamp, and John Mellencamp over the course of his 32-year career, and he’s managed to land on the Billboard charts with all of his monikers except the first.
A practitioner of solid Midwestern rock and roll, the Indiana native has had eight albums reach the top ten of the Billboard 200, including a No. 1 peak for 1982’s “American Fool” and a No. 5 peak just last year for “Freedom’s Road.” Each of Mellencamp’s ten Hot 100 top tens are memorable, often nostalgic singles, from “Hurt’s So Good” (No. 2) and “Jack and Diane” (No. 1) in 1982 to “Small Town” (No. 6, 1985) and “Wild Night (with Me’Shell Ndegeocello, No. 3, 1994).
Born: September 21, 1934
First Album: “Songs of Leonard Cohen,” 1968
Became Hall of Fame Eligible: 1993
Being Inducted By: Lou Reed (Reed entered the Hall of Fame in 1996 as a member of the Velvet Underground)
In the nearly 40 years since Leonard Cohen, already an accomplished poet and novelist, released his first recording on Columbia Records, popular music has undergone myriad changes in style and substance.
Although his career has ebbed and flowed in that time, Cohen’s songwriting has remained steadfast, tapping with each release into that place in each of us where sorrow and joy meet, giving generations of listeners the chance to discover the consolation and healing that can be found in facing pain head-on.
His timeless recordings have been like ripples in a lake, spanning out through the years to touch millions around the globe and spawning a formidable assortment of covers in a variety of languages, including several tribute albums.
Over 400 artists, from Judy Collins to Jesus and Mary Chain, have covered his songs. Bob Dylan, k.d. lang, Bono and John Cale are among the dozens of people who have done versions of “Hallelujah.” The late Jeff Buckley’s version of the song was No. 1 at iTunes on March 9, likely on the strength of “American Idol” contestant Jason Castro’s rendition on the show recently.
Members: Nokie Edwards, Mel Taylor, Bob Bogle, Gerry McGee, Don Wilson
First Album: “Walk, Don’t Run,” 1960
First Billboard Chart Appearance: “Walk, Don’t Run” No. 2 on the Hot 100 in 1960
Became Hall of Fame Eligible: 1985
Being Inducted By: John Fogerty (Fogerty entered the Hall of Fame in 1993 as a member of Creedence Clearwater Revival)
The Ventures formed in 1959 and landed their first charting single the following year with “Walk Don’t Run,” leading the wave of ’60s surf-rock. The instrumental climbed to No. 2 on the Hot 100 and is considered among the first surf songs to enter the tally.
The song was also among the Billboard’s top singles of the year, landing at No. 25 on the year-end pop singles chart for 1960. The group recurred through the year-end charts of the decade, grabbing a spot on 1963’s Top Pop Albums chart for “The Ventures Play Telstar, The Lonely Bull and Others” (No. 57), on 1964’s Top Pop Singles chart for “Walk, Don’t Run ’64” (No. 90) and 1969’s Top Pop Albums chart for “Hawaii Five-O,” a cover of the TV show’s theme song.
KENNY GAMBLE and LEON HUFF
Born: Gamble, August 11, 1943; Huff, April 8, 1942
First Single: (as producers) “The ’81” by Candy and the Kisses, 1964
First Billboard Chart Appearance: Dee Dee Warwick’s version of “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” No. 88 on the Hot 100 in 1966
Became Hall of Fame Eligible: 1985
Being Inducted By: Jerry Butler (Butler entered the Hall of Fame in 1991 as a member of the Impressions)
The names Gamble and Huff mean a lot to fans of 20th century American songwriting, but even if you aren’t into reading music credits, you could probably sing along to at least a dozen of the songs these two have been behind either as producers or songsmiths.
Chief builders of Philly Soul, the twosome wrote hits like “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” (also a Hot 100 No. 2 for the Supremes and Temptations) and “Only the Strong Survive” (a Hot 100 No. 4 for Jerry Butler, who is inducting them) before launching Philadelphia International Records in 1971. The label went on to release more hits than will fit in this space.
Huff and Gamble were responsible for Billy Paul’s Hot 100 No. 1 “Me and Mrs. Jones,” Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes’ Hot 100 No. 3 “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” (Simply Red’s version reached No. 1 in 1989) and the O’Jay’s Hot 100 No. 1 “Love Train,” all three of which the pair also wrote.
Born: May 1, 1930
Died: February 15, 1968
First Billboard Chart Appearance: Muddy Waters’ “Louisiana Blues,” which featured Little Walter, reached No. 8 on the R&B chart in 1950.
Became Hall of Fame Eligible: 1975
Being Inducted By: Ben Harper (Harper will become eligible for the Rock Hall in 2019)
The unparalleled harmonica player began his career blowing the blues on the South Side of Chicago in the late ’40s. Impressed by his skill, Walter was soon sitting in on sessions with legendary bluesman Muddy Waters. By 1952, after pioneering the amplified harmonica, he had a big hit on his own with the instrumental “Juke,” which lingered at No. 1 on Billboard’s R&B chart.
Before his death in 1968 at age 37 following a street fight, Walter racked up more than a dozen charting singles.